The Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania laid and dedicated the cornerstone of the first battlefield monument on July 4, 1865. That Soldier's National Monument is located on the grounds of the Soldiers' National Cemetery, beyond the stone wall, to your left front. At the close of the ceremonies, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin, a Freemason, thanked the brotherhood for their dedication of this monument to "devotion and fidelity to country."
In 1993, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania continued this early association with Gettysburg by donating the Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial. The monument depicts an actual incident of the battle, one which also inspired the 1899 design for the banner of the Local Gettysburg Commandery No. 79. Mortally wounded Confederate General Lewis A. Armistead is shown being aided by Union Captain Henry H. Bingham, during the closing moments of the battle July 3, 1863. These officers were among an estimated 15,000 Freemasons who fought at Gettysburg. The incident testifies to the unyielding bonds of brotherhood among Freemasons during America's divisive Civil War.
Since the original 3,600 Civil War interments, the Gettysburg National Cemetery and Annex have become a burial place for more than 7,000 veterans. Although the five-acre annex to the cemetery was opened in 1967, it was not until 1993 that major landscaping improvements could be undertaken as a result of a generous donation from the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.
"The unique bonds of friendship among Freemasons enabled them to remain a brotherhood undivided, even as they fought in a divided nation, faithfully supporting the respective governments under which they lived"
Edward H. Fowler, Jr., Right Worshipful Grand Master, Masonic Memorial Dedication, August 21, 1993
More information about the Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial is available at the Visitor Center.
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